Our culture is obsessed with self-sufficiency. Everywhere we go, we’re taught that we need to be strong and professional. We’re told to show off the good and hide the bad. We’ve developed an entire social media strategy for ourselves to showcase all our accomplishments in a carefully curated profile. I’ve spoken before about how Instagram is not real life and how we easily fall into the comparison trap but, even beyond how we present ourselves online, we don’t present our full selves in our real lives either. We tell everyone about how we’ve exercised our strengths but rarely do we talk about what we feel weak in. But, in my opinion, embracing weakness can become one of our greatest strengths.
The first step to embracing weakness is realizing that what our culture defines as weakness is actually not always really weakness. We’re taught that strong people = extroverted, amazing public speakers with an academic inclination. And although these people are wonderful, this is certainly not the only definition of strong. You can be strong and smart as an introvert. You can be strong and smart even if you’re not good at spelling. You can be strong and smart without getting straight ‘A’s in Math or Science. There are different versions of strong – all you need to do is to walk confidently in your personal version. Embrace who you are, not what culture tells you to be.
That being said, it’s important to be fully aware of what you’re good at and what you’re bad at. Build up your strengths and exercise your weaknesses. Come to terms with the fact that you can’t be the best at everything and that’s okay! You’re only human. You can still work on the stuff you’re not the best at, and walk in those weaknesses when necessary without being afraid. For example – I am not good at phone calls. Making calls makes me anxious and I trip over my words. For years I avoided them. I took jobs that didn’t require using the phone, and those rare times where I did have to make calls, I spiraled into an anxious fit. But this was no way to live. I had to learn that making phone calls was going to be necessary throughout my life and if I avoided doing so, I would build my anxiety up more and more, and every rare call would become debilitating. So, I took the opportunity to exercise that weakness. I took on a job as a receptionist, where lots of calls needed to be made. It’s been a few months now since starting the role, and though I’m still not a phone call connoisseur, each call gets easier. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be the best at it, but I can now do it unafraid.
This leads me to my next point – Believe in yourself and what you’re good at, and remind yourself frequently. Sure, you can’t be the best at everything, but you can certainly be the best at some things! We’re so often hyper critical of ourselves in some attempt at humility, but it’s actually perfectly healthy to build yourself up. When you feel down in the dumps, take a second to write out things that make you proud of yourself – no matter how big or small. Did you learn a new chord on the guitar? Great! Write it down. Beyond that, walk in confidence with what you know you’re good at. Don’t belittle yourself at work or in interviews or in conversation. Did you write an awesome report? Freakin’ celebrate that!
Realize that no one in the world starts out an expert. Every rockstar or legend that we hear about had to start somewhere. Becoming great at something takes practice and discipline and a ton of hard work. But did those legends give up because they felt weak? No! They persevered. And if you really want to be better at that thing you feel weak in, keep going.
Know that you don’t have to go it alone. Sharing your weaknesses with trusted confidants builds deeper relationships and lasting friendships. Embrace your weaknesses by telling your friends about them. Chances are, they have weaknesses that are weighing them down just as much. By talking through it together, you can rely on each other and not feel so isolated. And what’s even better is that now you have someone to celebrate with when you work on something or reach milestones! My best friends know exactly what I feel weak in and, because of that, they’re always able to encourage me or give me high fives when I push through.
When we embrace weakness, God can work. As I mentioned, our culture is obsessed with self-sufficiency – but we don’t have to be. When we admit our limitations, God can do what would otherwise be impossible. When we lean on Him in our weakness, He can help push us through. We’re not alone. We have our friends to walk beside us, and we have God to go ahead and do the things that we cannot.
The beautiful thing about embracing our weaknesses is that that’s what makes us who we are. Each person is made up of unique strengths and weaknesses, and none of us are quite the same. When we accept the good and bad about ourselves, we become a force to be reckoned with.